Wisbech author’s new novel has 400-year-old family friendship link

Friendship link in Wisbech author's new novel. Pictured is Richard Humphries with his new book On th

Friendship link in Wisbech author's new novel. Pictured is Richard Humphries with his new book On the day we go to Heaven. Picture: SUPPLIED - Credit: Archant

A new novel by a Wisbech author has a 400-year-old link to a family friendship.

'On the day we go to Heaven' by Richard Humphries opens in 1991 when a priest is plucked from his parish in Naples to avoid a scandal following an affair with the wife of a gangland boss.

Father Giovanni Clemente has two passions in life - women and a desire to help the spirits of the dead find their way to heaven.

But one of the principal characters in the book, a Capuchin Friar, Brother Corso, was inspired by a family friend, a Dutch former friar who once worked with Richard's wife.

Richard, 72, said: "We were travelling by train from London back to King's Lynn one summer's evening.

"As we crossed the Fens I happened to mention that my mother's family had been brought over from Flanders in the 1640's by Cornelius Vermuyden to help with the drainage of the Fens.

"Our friend looked at me and said 'but Vermuyden was my ancestor! My cousin still owns his farm in The Netherlands. We pronounce the name 'Ver-mer-den' and not 'Ver-moy-den' as you do in England."

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"It was a sobering thought that our families had known each other nearly 400 years ago."

Richard, who had a 50 year career in journalism and public relations, said all the ghost encounters in the book were based on actual events.

"In my days as a newspaper reporter and magazine journalist I always kept an ear open for ghost stories wherever I went," he explained.

"It's always fascinating to speculate on what happens after we die. No matter what your religious beliefs may be, there are many unanswered questions.

"I have had a number of ghostly encounters myself and there is so much more we have to learn."

After living in West Norfolk for a number of years, Richard now lives in Wisbech with his wife and grandson.

His collection of short stories: 'Tales from the Fire Hills' was published in July.

His next novel, 'The Elephant, the Oik and a ginger pussy' is set for publication next year.

On the day we go to Heaven is available to buy now for Amazon Kindle at £5.99.